Abusive relationships are a serious issue and can be difficult to recognize early on, which is why it's essential to know the warning signs. It's not uncommon for abusive relationships to start off seemingly perfect, and gradually become more and more controlling and toxic.
By educating yourself on the signs of abuse, you can remove yourself from a potentially abusive situation early on. It’s also important to remember that if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, it's not their fault, and there is always help available.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788.
Why Does Abuse Occur in Relationships?
Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in intimate relationships, but it is not caused by one reason alone. The National Domestic Violence Hotline explains that an abuser's motivation is rooted in their desire for power and control over their partner. Oftentimes, abusive individuals feel entitled to restrict and dominate their partner's life, believing their own needs take precedence over their partner's.
Alternatively, some abusers may derive pleasure from the sense of power that comes with controlling their partner. It can be challenging to recognize the signs of abuse, especially when it takes on less obvious forms like emotional or financial abuse. While recognizing and leaving an abusive relationship can be difficult and dangerous, it is vital for victims to know that there is hope and support available.
1. Jealousy & Possessiveness
It is not uncommon for people to feel a twinge of jealousy in their romantic relationships from time to time. In many cases, a little bit of jealousy can be normal. However, if a partner becomes excessively possessive or jealous, it can be a problem that escalates down the road.
Examples of extreme jealousy and possessiveness can include:
- Constantly accusing a partner of cheating
- Becoming jealous of a partner spending time with family or friends
- Extremely frequent calling
- Continually dropping by without notice
Jealous and possessive behavior can lead to a toxic and unhealthy relationship dynamic. If you feel safe doing so, addressing such behavior with your partner early on can help to prevent it from reaching an unmanageable degree.
2. Controlling Behavior
In any relationship, it's important to care for and support each other. However, when one person's behavior becomes controlling, it can be a warning sign of trouble ahead.
Examples of controlling behavior may include:
- Not allowing a partner to make their own decisions
- Limiting a partner’s social life
- Refusal to allow a partner to work
- Questioning who a partner is pending time with
Controlling behavior can take many forms and if you notice any of these behaviors in your own relationship or a loved one's, it's important to take these signs seriously and seek support.
Isolation is another sign of potential abuse in a relationship. There are two types of isolation a victim may experience, physical and social. Ultimately, being isolated from family and friends allows for there to be more control.
Examples of isolation can include:
- Statements that insult family and friends
- Refusal to allow a partner to drive or make phone calls
- Attempts to cut off resources
- Making it difficult for a partner to go to school or work
4. Cruelty to Animals and/or Children
When it comes to identifying potential abuse in a relationship, one warning sign that can go unrecognized is a person's treatment of animals or children. Individuals who engage in animal cruelty may be more likely to engage in violent behavior towards humans as well. Additionally, abusive partners may also target a partner's children or pets as a means of control or retaliation.
5. Verbal Abuse
It is important to recognize the signs of potential abuse escalation in relationships, and verbal abuse is one of them. While it may seem like "just words," it can actually have a significant impact on a person's mental health and well-being. Verbal abuse can erode one's self-esteem, create a toxic environment, and make the victim feel trapped and powerless.
Examples of verbal abuse can include:
- Excessive criticism
6. Force During Arguments
Arguments can arise in any relationship, but when those disagreements escalate to the point of using force, it's cause for concern. Southwestern University has identified the use of force in arguments as a warning sign for possible abuse in relationships.
Examples of force can include:
- Holding the victim
Abuse within a relationship can be incredibly difficult to recognize. If you have found yourself in this situation, it's important to know that you are not alone. Seeking help from a professional can be the first step in moving towards a safer and healthier future.
Our domestic abuse lawyers at the Law Office of Alexandra White, P.C. have spent years working with individuals who have experienced abuse at the hands of a partner. With our extensive experience and compassionate approach, you can trust that we will provide you with the support and guidance you need to move forward.
Don't hesitate to reach out for help, call at (303) 647-4245 or contact us online.